Running Backs: Can They Help Tua And The Passing Game?
The Miami Dolphins struggles to find productive running backs has long been a problem for the team. GM Chris Grier certainly went all all out to address the issue this offseason. Miami now turns to over its entire backfield with additions of Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, and Raheem Mostert. Of the three Edmonds is the most likely to be a direct benefit to Tua Tagovailoa and the passing game. Edmonds 53 receptions in 2019-20 for the Arizona Cardinals, and 128 in his career, suggest a third down back, passing situation role for him.
Sony Michel set a career high in rushing yards, 845, for the LA Rams last year. Raheem Mostert twice averaged 5 yards a carry or better with over 100 attempts, in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Michel probably getting the bulk of the carries early makes sense, to ease Mostert back from his knee injury. Both players being effective runners helps take pressure off Tua to throw so much. Head Coach Mike McDaniel’s offense uses the run to set up the pass. An effective run game also equals easier throws as well. More defenders dedicated to stopping the run makes play action more effective. It also can make for greater seperation for wide receivers Tyreke Hill, Cedrick Wilson, and Jaylen Waddle, as well as tight end Mike Gesicki. Miami receivers struggled to gain seperation last year, which made throws for Tua more difficult.
Growth For Backs And Offensive Line Go Hand In Hand
Its no surprise that as the offensive line struggled so did Miami’s running backs. McDaniel and offensive line coach Matt Applebaum must find a way to get more out returning starters along the line. Expect tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams to be the line’s strong points. Its to McDaniel and Applebaum to develop Austin Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, Michael Dieter, and Robert Hunt. All four are 25 years old or younger and started for Miami last year. The four, along with Jesse Davis, started for the worst rated offensive line last year.
In contrast McDaniel’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers, had the third best offensive line last year, behind only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys. Miami’s five linemen may not improve that much in one offseason, but finishing in the top half of the league makes Miami’s offense dangerous. McDaniel’s chances to showcase his creativity in the run game improve if the line can open holes for the three new backs, as well as lead Hill and Waddle on jet sweeps and straight hand offs. A craetive run game was a big part of why the 49ers made deep playoff runs. Better backs and line play could help Miami end its playoff drought.
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